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Submission + - The Planning Fairy Tale (

Esther Schindler writes: Software project management is full of “Let’s pretend.” Let’s pretend we can write a full schedule before we know the requirements; let’s pretend we can estimate how long it will take to solve this unsolved problem; let’s pretend we can predict schedules to the hour or half day, two years in advance

...In any case, people come out of the planning meeting with their initial enthusiasm quenched in the certainty that what was just a stake in the ground on Friday afternoon will be The Plan of Record on Monday morning. And they foresee a significant part of their future will include heroics to meet a schedule date, and endless negotiations to change The Plan as reality impinges upon it. The Plan of Record, the development team is sure, will run into the Two Ineluctable Facts of Project Planning:

1. If you don’t know what you’re going to build, you can’t know how long it will take to build it.

2. You only really know what you’re going to build when you finish it.

Here’s how to spot a “Let’s pretend” schedule and what to do when you find one.

Comment Yeah, sure (Score 1) 1352

That 2003 study was flawed by one major thing: the list of "facts" on which "Fox viewers" were "uninformed" were latgely either simply false, or defined "informed" as "agreement with the Conventional Wisdom." Such as for example climate change issues: disagreement with carbon-forced anthropogenic global warming was identified as "uninformed".

It isn't, really.

Comment Panic! (Score 1) 756

Yup. Recognizably human species have been around for, oh, say a million years, real like home sapiens sapiens for 0.1 million years. We should definitely worry about what will happen in 500 or 1000 million years.

As to the other point, I kind of hate to point it out, but the number of places with life that aren't really ideal for life is going to far exceed the number that are ideal. In fact, I think you can say that places actually ideal for life occur with probability 0.

Comment Learn the tools first, then worry about changing (Score 2, Informative) 338

See, as someone has already pointed out, there's at least one such tool that's in wide use already: TeX and LaTeX. If you don't like that one, it turns out that HTML, with CSS and a little bit of Javascript, is perfectly capable of doing all the things you want, too. You just have to learn how. Have a look at Lie's Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web (written and typeset in HTML/CSS) and at Prince XML for detailed examples.

Comment Try therapy (Score 1) 1354

Seriously. A good therapist can help you by pointing you to the right sources, help you figure out anything that may be behind it. Also, a therapist of the appropriately opposite sex can let you develop some skills in dealing with them in a controlled, safe, way.

Comment Or maybe not (Score 1) 403

... it depends on what you're trying to do. Just today, Sun published a Sun BluePrint Solid State Drives in HPC: Reducing the I/O Bottleneck showing that by using SSD as part of an HPC configuration, you can improve performance pretty dramatically. If buying 64GB of SSD can double performance on an I/O bound HPC program (these were finite element analysis programs) it might be a pretty good investment.

Comment You may not be doing them right (Score 1) 345

Honestly, code reviews, historically, have proven to be about ten times as cost effective as other techniques. If you're not seeing good effects from them, the odds are that you aren't doing them right.

Not that this is a big surprise, as few people do them well.

Get hold of some of the literature on Fagin reviews, and make sure you're following the guidelines:

(1) not too many people in the review: 3 minimum, 7 maximum.
(2) the programmer isn't allowed to speak, except potentially to explain something
(3) no one can suggest solutions: identify a potential problem and move on
(4) close the loop: make sure all solutions get documented and passed to review participants.
(5) a single review can last no longer than 1 hour.

Comment Amnesia (Score 5, Insightful) 499

See, the real issue here is that the guy doesn't actually remember, say, 1960. We may not have flying cars, but we have cross country plane trips for $14 (in 1960 dollars). We don't have videophones, but we've got Skype with video on computers -- and it's free. We're very rarely arrested for being queer, we're rarely getting arrested for voting while incorrectly complected, no one anywhere in the world has smallpox, and hardly anyone has polio. Famines are the result of political disruptions and the thuggery of Mugabe and his ilk, not lack of food.

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